Many of us know all too well the feeling that Sunday is not a day off, especially for those who work or serve at the church every Sunday. Sadly, if we are not careful, the most gratifying day of the week, can quickly become the most exhausting one. Leaving only Saturday, which is often busy as well.
But what about the Sabbath?
Far too many burn themselves out in ministry, going from day to day, appointment to appointment, person to person, without stopping to be still and rest. What would happen if you, your staff, and your church took the Sabbath seriously?
Here are five ways to help you see the possibilities…
1. Set healthy boundaries.
One of the most difficult but crucial things for those in ministry to practice is boundaries. Emergencies will come up every now and then, but when it comes to the Sabbath, you need to choose one day a week to take off – and take that commitment as seriously as possible.
If it is important enough to be a commandment, like most of the commandments in Scripture, it was made with our well-being in mind. It is a gift, a tool to help us rest and reconnect with God.
In Mark 2:27, Jesus tells us that the Sabbath was made for man.
If necessary, coordinate days as a church staff and work together to make sure everyone gets a “no call” Sabbath day. Make it part of your church culture. While you’re at it, make sure your small group leaders and volunteers are doing the same in their life and challenging those in their care to do the same.
2. Have a hobby.
Now that you have a day off, how will you spend it? Only you can answer that, but here are a few ideas. The goal is to rest, refuel, and reconnect with God and your own sense of purpose. If you love nature, try getting outside for a walk or a bike ride. Move your body. Listen to music. Read something just for fun, not for work. Create something.
While life may not be able to stop completely, do your best to spend your Sabbath doing things that will refill you and prepare you for the next six days of life and ministry.
3. Connect with God, yourself, and others.
Sabbath days are a great time to spend with the people you love. Make sure to set aside time with your spouse, your kids, your extended family, or your closest friends – the people who see you and know you outside of your day to day ministry. Get a meal together, do an activity, and ask them to pray for you in specific ways over the next week.
This is also a time to connect with God. Spend time in God’s Word. And no, sermon or lesson planning does not count. This should be time for feeding just you. Pause and meditate in silence, and see what the Lord has for you. Thank Him for the previous week and seek His wisdom regarding the week to come. Then take some time to journal or mentally check in with yourself. How was this past week? What, if anything, could you do differently?
4. Remember your own gifts and serve from them.
Ministry often requires us to pitch in wherever necessary. And that is certainly important sometimes! But God has given you unique gifts and talents, and when you minister out of those, you will find yourself filled.
5. Trust in the competency and calling of your team.
This goes along with setting boundaries, but one of the things you’ll have to learn is how to trust your team and trust God to make things happen – even when you are absent. There is a saying that God can do more in six days than we can do in seven. He is at work, even when you take a break. And by taking a break, you make sure that you are ready for whatever He sends your way in the days to come.
You are not in ministry alone. You are surrounded by a team of incredibly capable staff and servants – people that are being used by God, too! By stepping back once a week, you make sure that they have their chance to practice leadership.
Emily Towns, Staff Writer, Paper Giants